Prosecutors say the charges make Todd Pate eligible for the death penalty, although it is too early to tell if that will actually happen. They said he is being treated differently from other defendants as he was brought to court from the Kings County Jail here by himself.
Once in court-the judge asked the 50-year-old defendant if he understood the charges against him. Pate replied "not exactly." The judge then said he's facing a murder charge with the special circumstances, being that the crime was heinous and involved torture.
Melanie Pate's friends were also in court Friday morning wearing shirts and a purple ribbon for domestic violence. While prosecutors did not want to elaborate on the facts of the case, they did say more than one knife was used in the murder, and that Todd Pate is being given special care.
"There have been some suicide concerns, I don't know the exact issue of what raised those, but certainly there's mental issues at this point in time," said Larry Crouch, Kings County Deputy District Attorney.
Hanford Police had not been called to the Pate's home before the Labor Day murder. Friends have said Melanie Pate had asked for a divorce and that Todd Pate had recently been served with the paperwork.
The case will be back in court next week.